If you haven’t started really studying Astrology yet…or if you have, and you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of weird symbols, and you need something to anchor yourself to…start with the Planets.
It’s easy to get all caught up in the Signs first, because for some reason, it’s the Signs that have found their way into our culture (no one at a party ever uttered a seductive, “Hey, baby, what’s your House…?”). So the Signs just naturally seem like The Thing To Do at first.
But yeah, no – start with the Planets. The Planets represent active forces. They drive the engines. The Signs modify the actions of the Planets (and other things). In an admittedly oversimplified but not horribly inaccurate analogy, the Planets are like people, and the Signs are like jackets that the people can wear. The Houses are the rooms that the people hang out in once they’ve chosen a jacket to wear and put it on.
And because Astrology isn’t complicated enough, I’ll add another wrinkle for you right here… The Signs and the Houses? You can pretty much find a consensus out there that there are 12 members in each of those two sets. You can even find a decent consensus out there as to what each Sign and each House should be called and what they each generally mean.
But with the Planets, it’s different. In Astrology, the Sun and the Moon are included as “Planets.” So is Pluto, unlike for the astronomers. Well…that’s true if you’re into Modern Astrology. The modern school accepts the “Outer Planets” (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and depending on the individual astrologer, maybe many more orbital bodies out there, too) as having vital astrological impact on the system. The traditional Astrologer, though, only tracks the seven Planets that are visible to the naked eye from Earth: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The point is…unlike with the Signs and the Houses, there’s no ultimate consensus among astrologers as to exactly which Planets are to be considered essential components of a chart. To some extent, it’ll be on you to decide that.
So, sorry for that added bit of complication and responsibility… But yes, start with the Planets! Start especially with the visible seven (at least everyone seems to agree that those seven are crucial to the mix – it’s out beyond those seven that things get scattered). I also highly recommend looking into the Outer Planets, and if you feel like that’s still not enough to fully keep you busy, explore some of the Asteroid Belt asteroids and some of the Trans-Neptunian Objects way, way out there in the dark.
But whichever ones you decide should be considered Planets…start with the Planets.